Book of Mormon Geography
In Search of Ramah-Cumorahland
By E. Cecil McGavin and Willard Bean
5.5x8.5 Softcover 92 pages $9.99ea
Originally published in 1948. This little book displays the authors' remarkable facility with and understanding for ancient american history and archaeology as they defended the Prophet Joseph's original and only position on the location of Book of Mormon events.
Few people understand the Cumorahland region the way Willard Bean did. In fact he had little patience with those "scholars" (most of whom had never set foot in New York) who wanted to shift the events of the Book of Mormon to Central America among a culture and archeology while impressive, did not match in any degree the direct evidence that he was seeing all around him in the place he called Ramah-Cumorahland.
This work effectively establishes the beginnings of the Heartland model of Book of Mormon geography some 70 years before the term was ever coined.
Willard Bean is perhaps the single most qualified person to address this topic given that he and his young wife Rebecca were the first two Latter-day Saints to return to Palmyra New York to re-occupy the Smith farm after nearly 100 years. They spent 24 years raising a family, farming the land, acquiring additional property and entertaining the many thousands of guests who came to visit the sacred sites over the years. The Beans were also Hosts to the Prophets Joseph F. Smith, Heber J. Grant and nearly all the members of the twelve during those years.
Willard was a prize fighter before his mission and the locals called him the "fightin parson" as he became quite famous for never losing a boxing match which he continued to do as needed whether to draw a crowd to whom he could preach or to "peacefully" settle any differences. Time and again he defended the Prophet Joseph and the Book of Mormon in Palmyra's public square.
Pliny Bean, Willard's son recalls how every year "while plowing fields with his father, baskets full of arrowheads and artifacts were overturned." Willard reviews the extensive evidences from ditch and embankment fortifications which dotted the Western NY countryside to the many "bone pits" and large skeletons of ancient date which were being dug up during his time there.
Elder Mark E. Peterson wrote the foreword to this book and in it he praises Bean and McGavin's work as "an incisive study of the geographical locations of the three colonies that came to America in ancient days."